President Donald Trump outlined his approach to the ongoing unrest across the country, while also countering criticism in an extensive Friday interview with Harris Faulkner of Fox News.
“Toughness sometimes is the most compassionate,” Trump said when asked if he intends to be both a law and order leader and a consoler. “When you look at the damage, and the travesties, and the small businesses, and the death. When you act soft and weak you end up not being compassionate.”
Trump offered a degree of understanding with those protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. “When you see an event like that, with more than eight minutes of horror…it’s a disgrace. And then people start saying, ‘Are all police like that?’ But police aren’t like that.”
He also spoke of police reform, though exactly what policies he would support remained unclear. “We are going to do lots of good things.” Trump said. “But we also have to keep our law enforcement strong. They have to do it right. They have to be trained in a proper manner.” The president did state he would be on board for restrictions on chokeholds, while maintaining that in some dangerous cases it may still be necessary.
Perhaps the most tense moment of the interview came when Trump was asked about his tweets regarding looters being shot, which the interviewer said “frightened a lot of people.” Faulkner informed Trump the quote was not from controversial Philadelphia Mayor Rizzo, as Trump claimed, but from Miami Chief of Police Walter Headley.
Trump said thought it was from Rizzo and meant the message as a statement of “a bad thing” that would happen, not a threat. He also acknowledged that many still thought of it as such despite his intention.
Fox News’ Harris Faulkner confronts Pres. Trump about his “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” tweet: pic.twitter.com/zsA82ZMp5y
— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) June 12, 2020
The backlash against the so-called “photo-op” was also brought up. For days, media outlets incorrectly claimed tear gas was used to clear protesters, prior to Trump’s visit of St. John’s Episcopal Church, across from the White House. “I think Christians think it was a beautiful picture,” he said.
Trump declined to criticize Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who recently apologized for his role in the church outing. “If that’s the way they feel that’s fine.”
The interview concluded with the president’s thoughts on “CHAZ,” the self-declared autonomous area of Seattle abandoned by police and held by protesters. While he stated his intention to leave it to the governor, Trump spared no harsh words for the rouge protestors and leaders enabling it. “We are not going to allow Seattle to be occupied by anarchists. Its pathetic.”
You can see what has been released of the interview here.